What things must Erik ten Hag sort out at Manchester United ahead of the 2022/23 campaign?

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Jul 06, 2022, 12:01

While Manchester United might have managed to drag themselves to a top-six finish last season, it did not cover what was a nightmare campaign at Old Trafford.

Breaking a host of unwanted records last season under the guidance of former bosses Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick, the Red Devils are in the midst of what has been a rather public spiral over recent years.

With the likes of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho all failing to offer much stability to the English giants, it is now Erik ten Hag’s turn in the Old Trafford dugout.

However, while the ex-Ajax manager might have gained plenty of praise during his tenure in Amsterdam, the 52-year-old has a real job on his hands.

So, with the start of the 2022/23 campaign just around the corner, we have taken a look at the early issues that ten Hag must sort out in Manchester.

An immediate solution to the Ronaldo saga

With it finally announced back in April that ten Hag would be taking over at Old Trafford ahead of the new season, the former Ajax boss had made it clear that Cristiano Ronaldo was a key part of his plans.

However, after watching the five-time Ballon d’Or winner wrack up 24 goals across all competitions – a tally that saw him claim United’s Golden Boot – it appears that the 37-year-old has his sights set on a second move away from Manchester this summer.

While Ronaldo’s return to the Premier League might have been a blockbuster story last year, the Portuguese icon has largely divided opinion.

In what was a shock last weekend, news broke that Ronaldo has made the Old Trafford hierarchy that he wants to leave the club in pursuit of Champions League football.

With it still yet to be seen whether the ex-Real Madrid superstar will join up with his teammates for their pre-season tour of Australia, ten Hag must find an immediate solution before this saga gets out of hand.

Knowing that he still has quite the job on his hands before the 2022/23 campaign gets underway, the Dutch manager would have undoubtedly wished to have avoided such an early test of his authority.

Without another out-and-out number nine and with the summer transfer window already underway, ten Hag must not spend any time dragging Ronaldo’s future out.

Trying to stop the circus behind the scenes

Heavily criticised by former players such as Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Roy Keane over the past few years, ten Hag must find a way to reconnect their fanbase with the club.

With a story from inside their dressing room being leaked to the media on what felt like a weekly basis last season, the discontent between the English heavyweights and their supporters appears to be at a critical stage.

Watching the Glazer family take a further £11million dividend in an announcement that left the United fanbase furious last week, there are also a string of protests that are being planned ahead of the new campaign.

Almost becoming a footballing soap opera after chief executive Richard Arnold was filmed having a shocking conversation with a group of fans in a local pub last month, United have really seen the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City skyrocket away from them both in terms of their play on the pitch, and their business approach behind the scenes.

While all of those matters are certainly above ten Hag’s paygrade, the 52-year-old will know that he must find a way to improve the overall atmosphere in his camp.

With the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani leaving the club this summer, ten Hag will be telling the Old Trafford hierarchy that they must be going for a full reset.

Finding defensive resolve

While both Liverpool and Manchester City might have continued to shine with their rugged displays at the back, the Red Devils have only gained a reputation for their rather glaring defensive issues.

Although David de Gea might have once again been United’s only positive note last season, the Spanish shot-stopper was part of a side that conceded 57 Premier League goals in the 2021/22 campaign.

Although United might have announced the signing of left-back Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord on Tuesday, many have speculated what ten Hag will have in store for Harry Maguire.

While there might have been much excitement around Old Trafford when the England international completed a staggering £80million move from Leicester in 2019, the 29-year-old has rather drastically failed to live up to that tag.

Dropped by Rangnick throughout the back end of the season, ten Hag has a real decision on his hand whether or not he is to persist with Maguire as a defensive linchpin.

Likewise, still in talks with Barcelona over a move from Frenkie de Jong, a player that ten Hag knows extremely well, the ex-Ajax boss must add some midfield steel to his ranks over the coming weeks.

With both Scott Mctominay and Fred not deemed by many United fans to be the central midfield partnership that can mix it with the likes of City and Liverpool, a player that can shield their leaky defence should be at the top of ten Hag’s demands this summer.

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